Elaine Newton's Critic's Choice
Artis—Naples Lifelong Learning
The Underground Railroad
by Colson Whitehead
Winner of the National Book Award, this daring blend of comedy, tragedy, history and imaginative fiction ingeniously envisions the Underground Railroad’s hidden metaphoric passage, used to smuggle escaped southern slaves to northern freedom, as an actual underground railway network, complete with tracks, tunnels, conductors and platforms. The story follows Cora, as she escapes from a Georgia plantation and flees from state to state, witnessing a culture determined to demonize, brutalize and degrade the lives of African Americans. Author Colson Whitehead spins a moving, astonishingly effective story that takes us right up to the present day.
This lecture is part of Elaine Newton's Critic’s Choice series, featuring contemporary literature’s most compelling works.
Please note: The Thursday lecture will be held in the Daniels Pavilion. The Saturday lecture will be held in Hayes Hall.
Elaine Newton, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Humanities at York University, Toronto, Canada. She has taught courses in literary theory and methodology, contemporary fiction, psychology and literature and archetypal criticism. Professor Newton was one of the founders of York University’s Advising Program and its much-emulated Faculty of Education. She is a recipient of the province of Ontario’s Teaching Award in recognition of excellence in university teaching and in 1984 received a citation as Toronto’s Outstanding Professor. In 1996 she was the recipient of the university-wide Teaching Award. She has held appointments as professor of literature at Carlton University, Ottawa; University of Cape Town, South Africa; University of Sydney, Australia; Victoria University and the University of Otago, New Zealand. She has lectured throughout Canada and the US, London, Hong Kong, Zurich and Caracas. In 1992 she was a member of the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh’s Semester-at-Sea.
For over 40 years she has planned and conducted adult education courses throughout North America. This is the 26th year that she has presented our literature series Critic’s Choice and the 20th year she has presented Four O’clock at the Movies. She also initiated and taught, for 11 years, the pioneering Artis—Naples seminar discussion program The Questers. Newton has worked as a book critic for Toronto’s The Globe and Mail, been a special consultant to the Ontario Library Association, led movie and theater discussions and served as a consultant to the North York Board of Education. She continues to conduct an annual lecture series at the Toronto Public Library and leads summer tours to Stratford and Niagara-on-the-Lake Theatre Festivals. Professor Newton has served as a programming resource specialist for Chapters (Canada) and makes frequent guest appearances on TV and radio.